Chapter 17:

"Additional Cause For Sorrow"

VISUAL SHOCK - sometimes you have to promise not to fall in love~

The next week goes by in a blur, our daily routine forming around the domestic.

A part of me is contented playing housewife for Kaori - while she takes on the role of overworked salaryman - ensuring she comes home to freshly ironed clothes and dinner on the table.

Well, maybe it’s not quite like that… even if it sort of is.

I’m just picking up the slack for her to get through a rough time at work.

I still worry that she’s doing something risqué, even though she’s only really wearing smart business attire. She somehow gives off nothing but… cough…

My mind wanders between her being forced to submit to the whims of some hideous degenerate, or crushing men under heel, whip in hand.

The latter honestly seems most likely…

I trust her to only be doing whatever she’s comfortable with, and I’m in no position to criticize, but I worry because she’s unwilling to talk about it.

That and the late nights, how stressed she was getting, my own loneliness, and our complete communications breakdown the other week.

Anyway, like any good home-maker, I’ve taken to online shopping to pass the time, and fill the hole in my soul that should be occupied by quality time with my partner… I mean, friend. As stereotypical and outdated as those similes might be.


The same user keeps sniping me on YooHoo Auctions.

Kaori showed me how to use it the while we stayed in, watched crap, and finished off all my discounted treats. Now I can still try to find more of my dream outfits, albums, and memorabilia, even if we can’t make it out shopping in person.

As much as I miss our regular trips across the second hand stores of Tokyo, it is a lot easier finding exactly what I want online. Everything is in pretty good condition too, but the sellers really know their stuff, researching prices to stay highly competitive.

“Again? Again! How?!.”




Every item I don’t win is because whoever the same person keeps beating me to the punch.

It’s not all the time.

I win most of what I’m after, because either no one else cares, or the competition drops off based on my maximum bid…

“Seriously? Nooo… I’ve not even seen that listed except in archives!!!”

…but, there they are, always on the rarest items.


Pulling out bigger guns in our bidding war. Reserves upon reserves.

I can hardly compete.

“Yesyesyesyes… take that! Ohhhh… that got expensive!”

But, at least they didn’t win.

My auctioneering nemesis.

I beat kei002…


Their username: kei002 > K(ei)002 > KO(0)2 > KO’Z

I hate them.


Things on campus have been going great at least.

My new-found popularity from actually making an effort with a few people, and joining in the TV Drama improv nights, has resulted in more students from across the Business School acknowledging my existence.

Who’d have thought!

Nothing has materialised in terms of visual kei converts, or finding devotees in the wild, but it’s better than being ignored.

I’m actually in the class group chat now!

It’s mostly used for memes and arranging nights out, but I know there’s a looming group project this semester, so it’ll get even busier soon.


Holy crap!

“Hey… Ryu!”

He actually spoke to me!

Toshi has been avoiding me like the plague - though Kaori’s said he’s still badgering her - but whenever Ryu and I pass on campus, he just glares with open contempt… until now!

“I’ve been meaning to speak with you. Do you have a minute?”

He’s being a bit formal.

“Uh… yeah, sure. What’s up?”

He motions that we walk and talk.

“I realise that you were standing up for your friend at the Social…”

Oh no. This isn’t going to go well.

“…but things got a bit out of hand, don’t you think?”

I keep quiet to feel out where he’s going with this.

“What I wanted to say was…”

Negotiations modules are so useful.

“…I’m sorry for being part of all that.”

Not where I thought this was going.

“Toshi… he commands a lot of respect. His favour can make or break things for people.”

I nod understandingly.

Kaori’s explained as much. He’s a despot that’ll exile you if you don’t suck his… but, I’m only here for the year, and they all graduate at the end of it anyway, so it’s not like that makes a differenc-

“…and I’m not just talking about while at university.”

My stride breaks and I wobble to a halt.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sure you’re aware he has family in very influential positions?”

No nod this time. I just listen and stare.

“He can’t do anything directly with those connections, but he can lock you out.”

“Lock you out? Like…”

“Like, if you go for a job in… well, almost anything you need a degree for, they will have already heard of you.”

The penny drops.

“You might be immune, but…”


“…exactly. I just thought you should know.”

Ryu places a hand on my shoulder as a parting gesture.

His tone implied he cared enough to warn me, but everything else was so… aloof?

Maybe he’s just like that, though? I don’t remember much from the night out, so can’t really be sure, other than he was as bad as Toshi while drunk.

Maybe it was the alcohol, or the company?

Or, maybe that was more him, and this is just a polite mask?

I shake my head to pull my thoughts out of despair.

Not gonna get any answers this way, so I can either ask around, but that might draw more unwanted attention, or…


“They’re as bad as each other.”

After work, I pump Kaori for info.

P.I. Tai time~

“Ryu and I went to school together. He’s always been smart and quiet, but that turned to calculating as we got older.”

She willingly smack talks RuRu between bites of dinner.

“Did you make this?”

“Oh, err... The pickles are from a jar, and the miso is plain because I didn’t have anything to put in it, but the sauce I did from scratch.”

It’s literally just teriyaki salmon with boiled rice, soup, and a side salad.

“Ehh? Amazing!”

She’s actually impressed?

Like, no hint of irony.

“It’s nothing… anyway, you went to school with Ryu?”

“Mmm… yes. Ever since elementary. You could even say we were friends until around middle school.”

Another break in the interrogation to eat.

“He might even have a cousin married to one of mine. I remember my father referring to his family as 'social climbers', marrying their way up society. As if such a concept matters any more, outside of maybe the Imperial Household.”

She puckers at an extra sharp pickle.

“I would not trust much of what Ryu has to say, and anything truthful he does come out with…”

Firmly putting her bowl down for emphasis.

“…is probably filled with ill will. Are there seconds?”

“Everything but the fish.”

Kaori flashes a toothy grin as she unfurls from under the table, then scampers up to the counter to serve herself more.

“What about Toshi? You said he was harmless, but it sounds like he could make things hard for you after graduation.”

Her excited bustling about doesn’t slow a step, answering me without even turning around.

“It won’t matter.”

“How come?”

“It just won’t.”

And that’s all she had to say on the matter.

With a stone wall firmly entrenched around that topic, for now, I switch to something lighter.

“Think you’ll be free next… Tuesday?”

Kaori wriggles back into her spot at the table and pauses only to check her phone quickly and decide what to pop in her mouth first.

“Should be. I am only scheduled to work Wednesday through Friday next week so far. Why?”

I actually cannot contain my excitement… my lips split with a grin.

“I found a gig we won’t have to take headphones to.”

Proud of myself, I flick open the calendar for Shinjuku LOAF, and present my prize to Kaori.

“Deadmen are playing!”

They’re a lesser known band, but they always had such nice, haunting ballads.


She blinks unknowingly, both at the name and how much it hurt me to hear that.

“I… they… how?!.”

I cannot get my words out.


Then more bad news.



A deconstructed frock coat from H.naruto's 2003 Collection, gone…

“Not again!”

…to kei002

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